Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Video: A Piuma - Crossing Corsica on Foot and By Paraglider

The island of Corsica is home to the GR20, which is considered one of the most famous and challenging hiking trails in all of Europe. In this video, we travel to that place to follow two adventures as they take on that trail for themselves. But rather than just walk it on foot as most other trekkers do, the decide to instead use paragliders to cover the distance. The result is one wild adventure that has to be seen to be believed.

Video: Zac Efron and Brother Dylan Apply to be Gear Testers with Columbia Sportswear

Looking for a good chuckle to get you through the day? Then check out this video from Columbia Sportswear which starts brothers Zac and Dylan Efron. The two men meet with Columbia's legendary  chairman Gert Boyle, and if you remember Gert from previous ad campaigns, you know she's tough. Apparently we'll see more of the Efron's in videos later this year and this one will give you an idea of what to expect. So far, so good.

19 Great Places to View Next Week's Solar Eclipse

If you live in North America, it's hard to not be caught up in eclipse fever at the moment. Next week marks the first total solar eclipse to hit the continent in more than 38 years, and as such there is a lot off excitement surrounding the event. So much so, that thousands of Americans are expected to travel to witness the eclipse in all its glory, with hotels and campsites booked solid in anticipation of the celestial show. If you haven't figured out where you'll be watching the eclipse unfold, Men's Journal is here to help. The magazine has compiled its own list of the 19 best places to watch, with some surprisingly good options even for the last minute traveler.
Topping the list is my current city of residence, Nashville, TN. Nashville it he largest urban area that falls within the path of totality, plus it is home to good music, great food, and plenty of other activities to take part in as well. Naturally, this has made it a popular destination for eclipse viewers, and my advice is this is: if you haven't already booked a place to stay or know someone who has a room to share, don't bother coming. There are already warning signs about traffic and the entire city is expected to be crazy through the weekend and into early next week. Personally, I had planned to just take a lawn chair and sit out in my front yard, but now I'm headed to Tahoe for a backpacking trip instead. I'll miss the totality from that vantage point, but I'll be away from the craziness too. On top of that, the current weather reports look spotty for next Monday, meaning the skies may not be as clear as one would hope.

Other locations that make the list include Greenville, South Carolina; Jackson, Wyoming and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you're planning to go to the Smokies though, be sure to head towards the southwestern part of the park to catch the totality. Other sections will offer good views as well, but they won't be in the perfect area to see the most spectacular part of the eclipse. And for the record, Grand Teton National Park is also in the in the line of totality as well.

The Men's Journal article not only lists the location, but also gives readers reasons why that place is particular special. It also lists the author's pick for the best places to watch and stay while in the area. Finding a place to stay at this point will be the real challenge, unless you have plenty of money to spend or can find a place to camp.

Either way, it should be quite an experience.

New Theory Emerges on the Demise of the Franklin Expedition Through the Northwest Passage

One of the great enduring mysteries of exploration is what exactly happened to an expedition through the Northwest Passage led by Sir John Franklin back in 1845. Franklin took two British naval ships – the HMS Terror and Erebus – into the passage in search of the passage into the Pacific Ocean beyond.  But none of the 129 men who were with him survived the journey, and exactly what happened to them has remained shrouded in legend and conjecture ever since.

It is widely believed that the two ships became stuck in the ice above Canada while attempting to traverse the Northwest Passage. Those ships were discovered by archaeologists last year, renewing interest in the story and the eventual cause of death of the crew. Obviously chief amongst those causes was likely exposure to the elements, although lead poisoning, scurvy, starvation and tuberculosis have all been speculated as well. Now, one researcher has put forth a possible new explanation.

In a scholarly journal published by the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Michigan dentistry professor Russell Taichman has postulated that a rare conditions called Addison’s disease may have contributed to the death of the crew. The disease is caused by a weakened immune system or from tuberculosis, which autopsies show was afflicting the sailors. The disease makes it difficult for anyone afflicted to maintain weight – even when eating regularly –or stay hydrated, both of which would be deadly in the Arctic.

An examination of the bodies recovered with the ships indicates that many of the crew had lead poisoning and scurvy. The lead poisoning is believed to have come from the canned food that they were eating over a prolonged period of time, as well as lead pipes that were used to create drinking water. The scurvy was due to a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets. While these were obviously serious concerns for the stranded men, Taichman believes that they only masked the possibility of Addison's disease running rampant through the crew.

In reality, it was likely a combination of all of these things, and possibly more. The local Inuit tribes still share tales of the crew setting up camps on King William Island, and staying there for some time. That would indicate that the crew survived the sinking of their ships. But what happened next is difficult to say. One thing is certain however, it wasn't a pleasant place to be, and the death of the crew – no matter how it happened – was probably agonizing.

A Team of Norwegian Rowers Have Crossed the Arctic Ocean

A team of Norwegian rowers may have become the first ever to complete a row across the Arctic Ocean from south to north. But, this impressive achievement is just one small step in their plans, which include covering more than 2000 km (1242 miles) of open ocean.

The aptly named Polar Row got underway last month from Tromso, Norway with the intention of first rowing to the archipelago of Svalbard before eventually turning back south and rowing to Iceland. The crew consists of 9 men, led by skipper Fian Paul, who has already rowed across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indiana Oceans. They completed the first leg of that journey last week, arriving in Svalbard for a short break. After that, they returned to the ocean to continue along their way. They even continued further north to reach a milestone before pointing their boat towards the finish line in Iceland.

Rowing 12 hours per day and in 90 minute shifts, the team managed to make history when they reached the Polar Ice Shelf at 78ºN latitude. It is believed that in doing so, they became the first people to actually row across the Arctic Ocean, dodging icebergs, shifting weather patterns, and high winds as they go. Their eventual goal was to touch 80ºN before turning back. After that, it was nearly impossible to continue to make progress in such a small boat.

Now, they're on their way to Iceland and expect to arrive there in early September. You can follow their progress on the team's Facebook and tracking page.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Video: Wonderful Tanzania

This video is a colorful and memorizing love letter to one of my favorite places – Tanzania. It celebrates the landscapes, wildlife, and people that make it such an amazing place to visit. For those of us who have already been there, it will be a striking reminder of why we went in the first place, possibly inspiring us to return. For those viewers who have not yet gone, you'll understand why it should be on your list of "must see" places.

WONDERFUL TANZANIA from LUCA MIRANDA on Vimeo.

Video: How the Wilderness Can Help Us Heal

Anyone who spends quality time in the outdoors can probably attest to the healing power or nature. Spending time in wild places has been proven to be good for our minds and bodies. This is a concept that is explored in this video, which comes our way courtesy of Osprey packs, who know a thing or two about helping us get outdoors. The clip was shot in the amazing landscapes of Yosemite, which if you're going to choose an outdoor environment to help the healing process, you could do a lot worse. Enjoy. 

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 5: Return to the Falkland Islands

This part 5 in an ongoing series I'm writing about my recent travels to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions earlier this year. If you haven't read the first three parts, and would like to, you can find them here, herehere, and here.

In our last installment of this series I wrote about my experiences hiking on South Georgia and following in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton, who once trekked across the rugged interior of that island in a desperate search to find help. I also talked about my visit to Grytviken, the only village there that still has a few inhabitants. After departing that place, we continued to explore more of the coastline, including approaching calving glaciers in zodiacs. But, the weather forecast took a turn for the worse, and conditions began to deteriorate rapidly. It was clear the austral winter would be arriving soon, and it was time for us to turn for home. 

On our third day in the waters off South Georgia the winds began to pick up and the waves began to grow. The already chilly temperature took a plunge and the skies turned menacing. It was clear that there was a change coming, so our crew decided it might be time to bug out early. We were scheduled to stay another full day, but if we did, we probably wouldn't be able to go ashore anyway. Storms were definitely closing in, and our window of opportunity was closing rapidly, so we turned the ship back north and started once again for the Falkland Islands.

Before we left however, we did go ashore one more time and went on another short hike up to a mountain lake. The weather conditions had already started to change, and as we walked we were battered by winds of up to 45 knots (51 mph/83 km/h), which pushed us too and fro as we trudged up to a high ridge. Snow and rain began to fall, with tiny ice pellets blasting our face too. Needless to say, it was hardly a day fit to be outside, and yet those of us who went on that hike still wanted to see as much of South Georgia as we could before we left it behind. 

Researchers Discover 91 Previously Unknown Volcanoes Under Antarctica

There was more big news out of the Antarctic this week when it was revealed that scientists have discovered the largest concentration of volcanoes on the planet hidden under the ice on the frozen continent. A research team out of Edinburgh University announced that they had found 91 new volcanoes so far, and are now trying to determine just how active they are over fears of further environmental disasters.

The research project found that most of the volcanoes were located close to large ice shelf that covers western Antarctica. The fear is that if these volcanoes are active and could potentially erupt, it would have a devastating effect on the ice, causing much of it to melt in rapid succession. That could lead to a very fast increase in ocean levels around the world, which would rise at a rate that would be far more alarming than that caused by climate change. At the moment, there is no indication that such an eruption is imminent, but the team from Edinburgh University wants to study the volcanoes more closely to determine just how active or dormant they actually are.

The research project began with a simple question. Geologists knew that Antarctica had 47 volcanoes sticking out of its ice, but no one had thought to look for more hidden under the massive ice shelf. Just how many were still left to be discovered? Researchers set about finding the answer to that question by analyzing data collected by other projects that had used ground penetrating radar to look below the surface. They began counting the volcanic cones that were evident in that data and could identify at least 91 more hidden from view.

The confirmation of this discovery makes this section of Antarctica the home to the highest concentration of volcanoes on the planet, surpassing the volcanic ridge in east Africa. The report also indicates that the tallest of these mountains is nearly 4000 meters (13,123 ft) in height as well, putting it on par with the Eiger in Switzerland.

One of the biggest fears now is that the reduction of ice in west Antarctica could reduce pressure on the volcanoes, possibly making them active again. In other words, climate change is causing the region to warm, and as it does, the ice will disappear. This will allow pent up volcanic pressure to potentially explode, making the region a hot bed of seismic activity and further melting the ice. At the moment, that seems like a possibility for the future, but as we've seen in recent months, things can and do change quickly in the Antarctic.

Read more about this discovery here.

Alan Arnette Interviews Super Sherpa Mingma Gyalje Following Success on K2

If you followed the climbing season in the Karakoram this year the name Mingma Gyalie Sherpa is probably a familiar one by now. He's the founder and head guide of Dreamers Destination, a company that organizes expeditions to 8000 meter peaks and treks through the Himalaya. Mingma has been an incredibly strong and tough climber for some time now, having already summited Everest on several occasions and topping out on K2 back in 2014. But this year, he put his stamp on the mountaineering world by knocking off 4 big mountains and nearly a 5th, with perhaps more to come.

Recently, Alan Arnette had the chance to interview Mingma on his accomplishments so far in 2017 and what he has planned next. He also talked about how his teams have been so successful this year, including reaching the top on K2 when everyone else turned back and headed for home.

In the interview, Mingma G touches on a host of interesting topics, including how climbing in Pakistan is improving dramatically, the impact of the fast changing weather on the team's plans to climb K2, and team dynamics for expeditions to 8000-meter peaks. He also discusses his approach to weighing the risks of a climb, what it was like when the team launched their summit bid, and much, much more.

This is a good read for anyone who follows the climbing scene closely and is interested in the logistics that go into an expedition. There are lots of details revealed here, including what it was like to make the treacherous descent down K2 after a long climb to the summit. Mingma also talks about his next projects, which will come in the fall post-monsoon in Nepal. He says that he is already planning an expedition to Manaslu in September, but also has another 8000-meter project in the works that he isn't quite ready to discuss yet. If he summits Manaslu, that will give him successful climbs on 5 8000-metere peaks this year (Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Broad Peak, and K2), as well as one near miss on Nanga Parbat too. That's quite a year for anyone.

Read the full interview here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Video: Take a Tour of Wild Antarctica

To many people, Antarctica is a cold, desolate spot that they have no interest in visiting for themselves. But those in the know understand that is is actually a beautiful destination, filled with life and endless possibilities for adventure. In this video, we travel to the frozen continent and take a four-minute tour of some of the wonders that it has to offer. You'll see seals, whales, and other wildlife, as well as stunning images of glaciers and pristine coastline that stretches for thousands of miles. It is a great clip that will leave those of us wanting to visit this place for ourselves even more convinced that we need to go.

Video: Check Out the Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge in the World

Randa, Switzerland is the home of the longest suspension bridge in the world. This impressive feat of engineering spans more than 1620 feet (493 meters) in length and is 279 feet (85 meters) high at its tallest point. The bridge just opened a couple of weeks back, and in this clip we get a chance to see exactly what it looks like for ourselves. Who's ready to go take a walk over this thing with me?

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 4: Walking in the Footsteps of Shackleton



This part 4 in an ongoing series I'm writing about my recent travels to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions earlier this year. If you haven't read the first three parts, and would like to, you can find them herehere, and here

In my last installment of my travelogue for this trip, I wrote about the arrival of our ship – the National Geographic Explorer – at South Georgia, and our first encounters with the amazing wildlife that we found there. That includes tens of thousands of penguins and seals, as well as the occasional dolphin and whale too. 

But, South Georgia isn't just a place to spot vast amounts of animals. Anyone who knows about the island, probably also know that it played a crucial role in one of the greatest survival stories in the history of exploration and adventure. It was the destination that Ernest Shackleton and his team desperately tried to reach after being stranded in the Antarctic for months back in 1915 and 1916. I won't recount that tale here, as there are several great books to read on the subject, and I myself wrote an extensive article about the story for Popular Mechanics a few months back. 

I arrived at South Georgia knowing Shackleton's ordeal all too well, and I was excited to see the place that placed such a crucial role in the eventual rescue not only of the British explorer, but all of his men. I also knew that several years later Shackleton lost his life while on a return visit to South Georgia on his way to the Antarctic once again. I knew that his grave could be found there and at one point we would visit it. That was yet to come however, and we had several more adventures ahead of us before that would happen. 

While visiting the island we made several more stops at places like Right Whale Bay, Rosita Harbor, and Prion Island. Each of those stops provided more encounters with wildlife, including several different species of penguins and albatross. At that point, seeing these creatures, along with hundreds of fur seals, and become common place, although it was no less magical. The wildlife that inhabits South Georgia is truly spectacular, hence the nickname "the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean."

How to Become an Adventure Filmmaker

Aspiring adventure photographers and filmmakers listen up – we have an article/interview that you'll want to read. Outside magazine has published a profile of adventure filmmaker Aidan Haley in which he shares lots of great insights and tips on what it takes to do his job and become a professional in that field.

Haley is the cousin of American mountaineer Colin Haley, and the duo often climbed together when they were younger. But, Aidan realized early on that he wasn't going to become a professional climber like Colin, so he looked for other ways to mix his passion for the outdoor and adventure into his life. He started taking photos while climbing and discovered that he had a love for doing that as well. 

Despite having very little formal training, that turned into a career after college as he went knocking on doors in Paris looking for a job. Eventually, Aidan made his way to Los Angeles where he learned the craft of filmmaking as well, serving as a production assistant on a variety of shoots. Now, at the age of 30 he is working on projects with the likes of The North Face, Patagonia, and National Geographic

In the Outside profile Haley talks about his career path, how persistence allowed him to keep working towards his goals, and his early fears of working freelance. He also talks about overcoming creative stagnation, the importance of scheduling playtime for yourself, and not allowing your career to define who you are.

As someone who is a freelancer himself, I found the section on"What People Don't Realize" to be especially fitting. Here's what Aidan has to say on that subject: 
“My peers with nine-to-five jobs often think I don’t work very much or very hard, which is completely wrong. Often, my job is nine-to-nine. If you want to be a freelance filmmaker, think about the last time you worked 24 hours straight, then imagine doing that for an entire month. Growing up, I took a lot of shortcuts on my homework—you can’t do that and be any good at filmmaking. Editing is a meticulous job, so if you screw up one tiny step at the end of a five-hour process, you gotta go back and repeat the whole thing again.”
That's definitely something I can relate to at times. To read the entire article, click here. And to check out Aidan's work visit his website at AidanHaley.com.

Team Seagate Wins Adventure Racing World Championships Again

This past weekend a new world champion was crowned in the Adventure Racing World Series. Or should we say, a familiar team was named champion once again. New Zealand's Team Seagate once again showed why they are the best team in the world, dominating all of the competition at this year's championship race to claim their fourth straight title and fifth overall.

This year's world championship was hosted by the Cowboy Tough race in Wyoming, bringing the competition to the U.S. for the very first time. The event featured all of the usual adventure racing disciplines, including trekking, trail running, mountain biking, paddling, climbing, navigation, and so on. As usual, the course was a tough one, covering some 450 miles (724 km) over six days. It took Seagate – which consists of Joanna Williams, Bob Mclachlan, Stuart Lynch, and Chris Forne – just 79 hours, 13 minutes, and 30 seconds to cover that distance.

As of this writing, six total teams have completed the race with Team Haglofs/Silva of Sweden taking second place 4.5 hours behind senate, and American squad Team Adventure Medical Kits claiming third another half hour back. That leaves the majority of the teams to still cross the finish line, with most having about three more days to wrap up the race. With the winners now declared, the remaining squads are racing against their own goals and expectations, and for the pride of knowing that they completed one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet.

With the world championships wrapped up in August this year, the rest of the AR schedule looks fairly quiet throughout the remainder of the year. That means the teams and race organizers will begin looking ahead to 2018, which will be filled with a number of great races once again. With qualifying races held on six continents, there should be plenty of action to follow. And next year's race will be held on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, which should be a beautiful and difficult destination indeed.

Congrats to Seagate on another successful season and to all the teams that raced in the AR World Series this year.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Video: Nat Geo and Pristine Seas Take Us on a Wild Journey

We'll end the week with this wonderful video from National Geographic and the Pristine Seas initiative. The short clip was shot near Cape Horn, in the Magallanes region in Chile, which is home to a rich and wild ecosystem. The goal of Pristine Seas is to protect and preserve those places, which have become increasingly threatened in recent years. This is a beautiful part of the world, and as you'll see, it is a place well worth exploring and preserving.

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 3: The Serengeti of the Southern Ocean

This part 3 in an ongoing series I'm writing about my travels to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions earlier this year. If you haven't read the first two parts, and would like to, you can find them here and here.

When I last left off in my story, the National Geographic Explorer, my home home for the three-week journey, had left the Falkland Islands behind and we began the journey to the remote island of South Georgia. To get there, we would spend two days at sea, leaving behind the Atlantic Ocean and South American continental plate, as we crossed over into the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic Plate instead. Along the way, there was a noticeable chill added to the air as we made our way south, providing some indication that we had indeed traveled to an entirely new part of the world.

Anyone who is familiar with the sailing route to the Antarctic also knows that in order to get there you must first pass through the infamous Drake Passage. Named for the English sailor Sir Francis Drake, who discovered the waterway that links the Atlantic, Pacific, and Souther Oceans back in 1578, this lonely stretch of sea is famous for its turbulent waters. Fortunately for us, it was extremely calm on our passage south, with very few issues at all. That said, the Drake still rocked the Explorer enough that those susceptible to sea sickness still found the it to be a bumpy crossing, with some of the passengers confining themselves to their rooms for the duration. The crew even put up safety ropes leading in and out of the dining area to assist travelers as they came and went. Despite calm conditions, the ship still listed here and there, and it wasn't uncommon to have to shift in one direction or another as the Explorer moved under us. A few days in, we were still getting our sea legs, but slowly we would acclimate to the movement.

While en route to South Georgia we continued to spot an array of sea life. In addition to the occasional dolphin, we also spotted several more species of whales, including humpbacks and fin whales. But, one of the highlights of the entire trip was when we came across a pair of blue whales swimming amongst a pod of fins. I had never thought to see a blue whale in my lifetime, but there they were before me. The largest animals that have ever lived, the blue whale can stretch up to 30 meters (98 ft) in length and can weigh an astonishing 173 tons (380,000 lbs/173,000 kg). Watching these amazing creatures swimming right along side our ship was truly a wonder, and it is a sight that has stayed with me long after I've returned home.

World's Longest Mountain Bike Trail Could Get Even Longer

At 2700 miles (4345 km) in length, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is considered the longest such trail in the world. Currently, it stretches from Banff in Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, with about 90% of the route completely unpaved. For long distance adventure riders, it is the Appalachian Trail of mountain biking, luring hundreds of cyclists on an annual basis. Now, if everything goes as planned, it could get even longer.

According to a report from Gear Junkie, the Adventure Cycling Association has begun fund-raising efforts to collect enough cash to extend the trail another 400 miles. The plan is to extend the trail into Jasper National Park in Canada and swing a section of the route into Missoula, MT – home of the ACA.

This move comes as the GDMBR celebrates its 20th anniversary. Way back in 1997 when the trail was first conceived, no one knew that it would take on a life of its own. This year, the ACA hopes to complete the official construction of the route, finishing the last section into Antelope Wells. Up until now, it was unofficially opened and easy to follow, but still requires some trail work.

The GDMBR is also the route followed by the Tour Divide Race, an event we've followed closely in the past. That race pits top endurance mountain bikers against one another to see who can ride end-to-end the fastest. According to Gear Junkie, it takes most people 37 days to ride it from start to finish, but the record set during the TDR is just 13 days, 22 hours, and 51 minutes. All self-supported along the way.

Donations are being taken to the effort awn the Adventure Cycling Association webpage, with all funds taken in by September 30 being matched by the ACA itself. Find out more by visiting that page here.

100-Year Old Fruit Cake Belonging to Robert Falcon Scott Found in the Antarctic

The Antarctic Heritage Trust continues to unearth some interesting artifacts on the frozen continent. In the past, they have discovered Shakleton's whiskey, a notebook belonging to a photographer who accompanied Robert Falcon Scott on his Terra Nova expedition, and countless other important historical items from the huts of Scott and Shackleton that the organization helped restore. Now, you can add one more unique find to that list, as researchers have uncovered a 100-year old fruit cake that is believed to have belonged to Scott as well.

The cake was found still wrapped in paper and locked away inside an original tin carrying case. It was made by a company called Huntley & Palmers, which is a brand that Scott was known to have taken with him on his ill-fated Terra Nova expedition, which lasted from 1910-1913, and ended with the famous explorer and his team losing his life on the return journey from the South Pole.

According to the report from the AHT, the tin that contained the cake was in poor condition when it was found. It had to be treated with rust removal and chemical stabilization before being handled, with further work done on the exterior of the can as well as the paper inside. Surprisingly however, the cake itself was said to be in "excellent condition."

The fruit cake was a favorite treat amongst Antarctic explorers, who not only found it tasty but also high in calories to help fuel their travels across the ice. This particular item was found in a rather nondescript tin that is amongst the last of the artifacts that researchers are combing through from the Cape Adare hut. The AHT has been studying those items for months and the cake came as a bit of a hidden surprise as the research team began to wrap up its investigations.

The hut at Cape Adare was originally built for a prior expedition back in 1899, but Scott used it as part of his 1911 Antarctic journey as well. They were the first of their kind built on the Antarctic continent, and the AHT is now setting about restoring them. When that process is finished, all of the artifacts they have collected – including the fruit cake – will be returned to the site.

To find out more about this unusual find, read the full article from the AHT here.

Sailing Legend Peter Burling Joins Volvo Ocean Race

Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race is still two months from getting underway, but it is already starting to get more and more interesting. Teams are now entering a number of warm-up events in preparation for the round-the-world completion, and now it has been revealed that New Zealand racing legend Peter Burling is set to enter the race in an attempt to become the first person to win the Triple Crown of Sailing.

Burling has joined Team Brunei and has already begun training with his new mates. He and the crew are now putting their ship through its paces prior to the October 22 start of the race. They started by racing from Plymouth, UK to Saint-Malo, France, which is the third stage of the Volvo Ocean Race’s Leg Zero qualifying series.

The helmsman is an experienced sailor who has rocketed to notoriety first by winning gold for New Zealand at the 2016 Olympics in the 49er class. Earlier this year, he added to his resume by also winning the America's Cup as part of Emirates Team New Zealand as well. This puts him in a rare position to be able to potentially win the third leg of sailing's so called "Triple Crown," which not only includes those two events but the Volvo Ocean Race as well.

“I’ve always wanted to do this race – although I haven’t done a lot offshore, I’ve always been keen to get involved but always struggled to find the time," Burling said prior to the start of the qualifying leg. "It seems like good timing and a great opportunity to learn a lot off a pretty experienced team.”

When the VOR gets underway in October, 7 teams will set sail on a race that will test them both mentally and physically. The event gets underway in Alicante, Spain, and eventually ends in The Hague sometime next June. In between they'll cover some 40,000 nautical miles, visit six continents, and make 11 ports of call. 

"Round-the-world ocean racing has always excited me and I'm stoked to be part of Team Brunel on this epic edition," Burling said. He went on to add "I can't wait to be thrown into the challenge of extreme offshore racing and broaden my skills and sailing experience."

Find out more about the Volvo Ocean Race at the official website for the completion. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Video: The Life of a Fire Lookout in Montana

For 24 years Leif Haugen has spent his summers in a remote part of Flathead National Forest in Montana keeping an eye out for fires. From June to September he watches for any blazes that might appear and alerts fire fighters of where they can be found. In this video, we get a glimpse of what that life is like as he spends his days in the wilderness pretty much all alone. This isn't a job for those who don't like solitude, but it is important task to say the least.

The Lone Lookout: The Man Protecting Montana’s Forests from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Video: Racing in the Streets - Urban Downhill Mountain Biking

This short – but sweet – clip takes us to the streets of Quebec, where mountain biker Finn Iles races downhill, showing us that you don't have to go to remote areas to find a place to ride. Of course, while filming the clip at 5 AM, there isn't much in the way of traffic or pedestrians to worry about either. But, the filmmakers cleverly give us an overlay of how busy the street is during other parts of the day, making it clear that we probably shouldn't attempt this ourselves. It's a radical line to say the least.

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 2: On the Fringes of the Falklands

Yesterday I started a multi-part series on my recent trip to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions. If you haven't read part 1 of the series yet, you can do so here. In that first article I talked about my brief visit to Buenos Aries, the journey south to Tierra del Fuego, and the start of the actual voyage aboard the National Geographic Explorer. All of that was a necessary part of the story of course, but it also mostly served as a prelude of what was to come.

After setting out from Ushuaia, the Explorer made its way into the southern Atlantic Ocean with our course set for the Falklands. The plan was to spend the first few days sailing to the Falklands and exploring some of the more remote sections of the island before turning south towards South Georgia. We would then spend several days visiting various parts of that remote place, before returning to the Falklands once again to visit even more of the region, before returning home. But that was still more than 2 1/2 weeks off, and things were just getting started.

It took the better part of a day and a half to make our way from Ushuaia to the Falklands, but that gave us time to find our sea legs and become accustomed to life aboard the ship. On a voyage such as this one, you end up spending plenty of time at sea, and you have to be comfortable living in a relatively confined space with few things to do. The Explorer is a very comfortable ship however, and  while the cabins are small, they are cosy too. Each one is outfitted with a television set with on demand movies if you want to spend some time in your room, but the very knowledgeable and friendly crew also give lectures several times a day, and several National Geographic photographers also provide workshops throughout the voyage as well. Passengers gather regularly in the lounge areas to swap stories, talk about their experiences, and get to know one another too. Meals are served like clock work, snacks and drinks are available as needed, and in general you don't really want for much of anything.

That isn't to say that life at sea is without incident. During our voyage to the Falklands for instance, we spotted several variety of whales, including southern right whales and sperm whales. These massive mammals regularly put on a show for us, spewing water high into the air and slapping their tales as they dove back under the water. The crew of the Explorer were always quick to point them out when they were spotted out on the water, and the ship would even slow down to allow passengers to take photos or simply enjoy watching the giant sea creatures swim past.

15-Month Old Could Become Youngest to Complete Appalachian Trail

On March 21 of this year, Bekah and Derrick Quirin set out to hike the Appalachian Trail with the hopes of covering its entire 2200 mile (3450 km). Like other long-distance hikers, they were looking for a little adventure and the opportunity to complete one of the most iconic trails in the world. But unlike most others, they also have a small child in tow. Daughter Ellie is just 15-months old, and yet she is tagging along for the ride on the AT. And if mom and dad are successful, she could become the youngest person ever to complete the route.

According to this article from Mother Nature Network, the Quirins have been "flip-flopping" on the AT. That means they aren't hiking it end-to-end, beginning or ending on either Springer Mountain in Georgia or Mt. Katahdin in Maine, which are the southern and northern most terminuses respectively. Instead, they started their walk in Virginia in March and headed south, reaching Springer on May 13.

Using this approach allowed the trio to start the hike in some of its easier sections, allowing Bekah and Derrick to get their legs under them before taking on more challenging legs. That's not uncommon for backpackers, but most of them aren't carrying a child on their back either. The strategy also allowed them to avoid hiking the trail's southern end in the heat of the summer too.

Now, they're preparing to return to the trail and continue counting off the miles. Ellie will of course be joining them, and although she doesn't walk yet, she is getting close. In fact, it is possible that she might take her first steps on the A.T. itself. That sure beats scuffling across the carpet in the living. room.

You can follow along with the family's adventures by checking out their blog and Instagram account. It should be a fun journey to watch unfold.

Indian Couple That Faked Everest Climb Fired From Police Jobs

Remember the Indian couple that faked their summit of Everest last year, and were subsequently found out? After receiving a 10-year ban on climbing in Nepal, they returned home to face further investigations and possible disciplinary action as well. A few days back, after more than a year of investigation, the duo were fired from their jobs as police officers as well.

In 2016 Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod made headlines around the world when it was discovered that they had faked a climb up Everest. The husband and wife team used Photoshopped images to try to sell their story, and even had the backing of the trekking group they used to go to Everest Base Camp. But, it didn't take long for their story to unravel as other climbers recognized the photos as belonging to someone else and Nepali officials couldn't find a single person who would go on record as witnessing seeing the Rathods on the mountain. That resulted in the decade-long ban for the couple.

But that wasn't the end of the story. Last Saturday, the police department in the Indian city of Prune also dismissed them from the jobs after completing its own investigation. Sahebrao Patil, the police commissioner in the city, when speaking of the situation, is quoted as saying “We found that they had given false information to media, cheated the Indian and Nepali governments and morphed photos to show that they had reached the top of Mount Everest — which, in fact, they had not.”

In India, climbers who summit Everest are given a higher level of notoriety than in many western nations. It is believed that the Rathods had hoped to turn their new-found fame into promotions and raises in pay at their jobs or parlay it into some other money making opportunity. Now, they have earned a level of notoriety of a different kind. One that is likely to follow them around for a very long time.

This incident has also forced Nepal to reevaluate its process for verifying summits, which currently require photos and a report from team leaders. Initially officials there gave the Rathods their summit certificates as well, but much to their embarrassment were forced to later take them back. The Department of Aviation and Tourism, which oversees such actions, is still considering ways to improve the process.